By Ellen Thompson/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Hill County Park Board is considering increasing the size of cabins allowed in Beaver Creek Park in order to keep up with reality.
Most cabins leased in the park take up more space than the 720 square-feet limit in the current lease. A revised lease would allow 865 square-feet per cabin.
The Park Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed rules Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the Timmons Room of the Hill County Courthouse. A second hearing will be held March 18. If no changes are made, the new lease will go into effect 30 days after the second hearing, Hill County Commissioner and park board member Mike Anderson said Thursday.
The Hill County Park Board began cabin inspections at the end of September in response to concerns that cabins were too big and that lessees were using trailer houses to extend their cabins, which is prohibited by the current lease.
After inspecting nearly all the park's 120 cabins, board members settled on the new square footage because it seemed reasonable given the actual size of cabins in the park, board chair Steve Mariani said Thursday.
A few cabins in the park exceed even the new limit, Mariani said, but those will be grandfathered in. The goal, he said, is to get lessees to abide by the rules from now on.
"We're trying to just not have the mega, mega stuff out there," he said.
Besides the new cabin-size rule, most of the lease will likely remain the same, he said.
The park board has proposed language that emphasizes that any cabin remodeling or additions must be approved by the park superintendent before they are made. Also, the park board is trying to educate people about a rule that has been ignored for years - no trailer houses.
The park board's next task, board members said at a Feb. 7 meeting, will be to make sure that lessees are obeying the rules regarding sewage disposal.
Several board members at that meeting discussed the rumor that people are using plastic bins in their outhouses, and then shooting out the bottom with a rifle so they wouldn't have to have the sewage pumped as frequently.
"They're not exactly doing any favor to the environment or the aquifer," Mariani said.
Park rules require a park- approved vault, the ideal being concrete, he said. The sewage is required to be pumped by a professional.
During cabin inspections, park board members often check to be sure the vaults are being pumped regularly, Mariani said, though a particularly empty vault might also be suspicious.
Any new cabins will be under particular scrutiny, he said, to be sure the new rules are followed.
Mariani said he hopes to have some wheelchair-accessible cabins and park buildings.
"Anything we're building, repairing, or working on, we want to make sure it's better" than before, he said.